Oregon Road Trip: Quick Stop at the Oregon Zoo in Portland


We had been suckered into going to another zoo. My friend Beth, who first convinced us to take our Oregon road trip, waxed on and on about the Oregon Zoo in Portland. She was full of fun facts like Packy the Asian elephant was celebrating his 50th birthday. Born in 1962, Packy was the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years.

Well who could say no to a birthday party for an elephant?

Dek was beyond excited to finally leave the gardens behind and get to the zoo for some animal exploration. I’d stuck him in a car for the drive from Cannon Beach to Portland. Then I forced him to see not one, but two gardens in Washington Park.

It was time for some kid-approved fun. We, the parents, didn’t mind. Mike and I love a good zoo.

Tip: If you are a member of your hometown zoo ask the ticket counter about reciprocal membership. We saved loads by flashing out Woodland Park Zoo membership card.

There were a lot of great exhibits at the zoo, but the number of cages was a bit disappointing. Not only was it hard to get a good picture, but I also felt bad for the animals. They looked like they could have used a little more room to stretch.

We did catch a glimpse of who I think was Packy in his exhibit. There are a number of elephants at the zoo. We sang the happy birthday song to all of them.

The best part about our excursion at the zoo was meeting up with two little girls and their mom. Dek hadn’t had much playtime with other kids and he was desperate for the interaction.

We didn’t mean to adopt them, but we slowly realized both of our families were moving at the same pace. The kids kept playing together and checking out the animals. Mike and the mom chatted while I took pictures. Soon we were herding each other’s kids and enjoying the zoo together.

I found out that they were a local family and good thing too. When it was time to leave we were totally lost, having never grabbed a map (another smart travel move on mom’s part). Our adopted family knew the way out. They led us through the maze with a quick stop at the giraffes and out the front gate in record time.

Our day had been jam-packed. We got to wave at Packy (I think) and come back with tales of our visit for Beth. We did not get to ride the train around Washington Park that left from the zoo, but we were all spent. Now we needed to check into our hotel, find some dinner and get the kids (not to mention the adults!) to bed.

Know Before You Go

  • Oregon Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Road, Portland, OR 97221 (Washington Park)
  • Open 364, closed on December 25th
  • Hours: 9am to 6pm in summer. 9am to 4pm the rest of the year
  • Admissions: $10.50 adult/ $7.50 children/ Children 2 and under are free
  • Parking costs $4 per vehicle
  • Discounts available
    • If you are a member of a reciprocal zoo.
    • The 2nd Tuesday of every month tickets are only $4
    • If you ride the bus or light rail to the zoo, show your ticket for $1.50 off admissions.
  • Food is available on sight for purchase.
  • Strollers? Definitely. It can get warm in Portland in the summer. Carrying a baby around all day could get very sticky (and stinky).
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written by Keryn Means

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Showing 9 comments
  • Theresa

    That looks like a great zoo with fun animals. Our local zoo always leaves me feeling disappointed after we’ve been through it!

  • Hilarye

    I love the Oregon Zoo. Ok I really just love Oregon. And Washington. And anything pacific Northwest. Can I just move there yet?

  • Paula J

    Hi Keryn! If I visit the zoo it always makes me sad as well. Same with pet stores and shelters.

    Don’t kids make it so easy to make friends?

    Happy WW!

  • Kat

    How funny, we went to the Oregon Zoo last weekend too! I didn’t remember my WP zoo membership until after we paid, but they still honored the discount when I went back to correct my mistake. We saved 23 bucks!! Did you all take the train while you were there? My little guy wouldn’t let us leave without hopping on. It was a very relaxing 20 minute round trip…well worth the 5 bucks.

    • © Keryn Means/ walkingon travels

      Sadly we did not have time to go on the train. We tried to hide it from my little guy in fact because we didn’t have time to squeeze it in 🙂 Next trip though we will definitely be doing it.

  • Lisa Wood

    Sounds like a great day out was had by all! We love Zoo’s – so much to see and do.

    Like your “Know before you go” tips, great ideas!

  • jade

    What a fun day! Those hippos are adorable- I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any in a zoo or in the wild. Crazy!

  • Brenda Youngerman

    wow.. what a great little zoo.. looks like the family had a great day!

  • Dr Bron

    Giraffes are my favourite! Thanks for linking with Pick A Post.

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